After an extremely disappointing loss to Milwaukee on Monday night due a collapse in the bullpen, along with some questionable managerial decisions by Derek Shelton, Pittsburgh came into Tuesdays game with the goal of righting the ship; calling on veteran pitcher, Derek Holland, in his first start of the year and his first in a regular season game wearing a Pirates uniform.
Holland began the game by allowing a single to the Brewers leadoff man, Lorenzo Cain, but eventually settled down; striking out both Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun to end the top half of the 1st. The next inning began with the Dutch Oven striking out a third straight batter, Jedd Gyorko. In the end Holland was maybe left in at least one batter too long as Keston Hiura homered off of him in the bottom of the 6th, bringing in Lorenzo Cain, who had walked earlier, in the process. Through 5 2/3 innings Holland would throw a total of 90 pitches; allowing 2 runs on only 2 hits. He did strike out 5 Milwaukee batters while hitting one and allowing 3 free passes, including the costly one to Cain.
For the other side, righty and former Pirate Josh Lindblom started out strong as well, allowing only one hit through two while striking four and walking one. The Pirates did threaten in the bottom of the 2nd, but Cole Tucker fell victim to a change up from Lindblom to end the inning; leaving runners stranded on 2nd and 3rd. It wasn’t until the bottom of the 4th that the Pirates were finally able to get to the Brewers’ hurler. As predicted by Dejan Kovacevic, Bryan Reynolds eventually got his bat going with a single and a double in his first two plate appearances, but it would be Guillermo Heredia that would get the scoring started with RBI single, scoring Colin Moran and the aforementioned Reynolds. Lindblom would then strike out Tucker for the second time before being lifted due to injury. His final line was 2 earned runs on 3 hits with 5 strikes and 3 walks in 3 2/3 innings.
With the score tied 2-2 at the end of the 6th inning it was time for the Pirates and Brewers bullpens to duke it out. Unfortunately the Bucco relievers were not up to the task at hand as Chris Stratton and Miguel Del Pozo combined to walk the first four Brewers they faced in the top of the 7th. Del Pozo went on to give up a double to Orlando Arcia, extending Milwaukee’s lead to 5-2. After an intentional walk of Cain to load the bases, he was ultimately lifted in favor of the recently recalled Geoff Hartlieb. Thanks to a heads up play by Heredia in centerfield on a sacrifice fly by Hiura the Pirates were able to avoid even more damage; nailing Arcia with great throw at third base.
Luckily for the Pirates, the Brew Crew’s pen was just as willing to allow runs; letting Pittsburgh back into the game in the bottom of the 7th. Tucker and John Ryan Murphy reached base on back to back singles; which were then followed by a walk, a hit batsman, a throwing error by first baseman Justin Smoak and finally a double by Phillip Evans. Just like that the game was once again knotted up, this time at 6 a piece.
As the 8th inning began it looked like the excitement and joy for Pirates fans was going to be short lived as Hartlieb quickly gave up singles to Ryan Braun and Eric Sogard, but Reynolds saved the game for the time being by throwing out Braun who tried to score on a fly ball to left. A ground to the next batter, Avisail Garcia, and Hartlieb was out of the jam almost as fast as he got into it.
Riding high on the offense output from the 7th and the defensive performance from the top of the 8th, the Pirates bats continued to heat up as Tucker led off with a double and Adam Frazier knocked him in on his first home run of the season. Nick Burdi would follow in the top of the 9th. After a walk to the first batter, Burdi struck out the next swinging and ended the game with a double play ball off the bat Lorenzo Cain; preserving the Pirates victory 8-6 and recording his first career save.
In this game both Bryan Reynolds and Cole Tucker got off the goose egg with two hits a piece, which was really nice to see. However, it is still tough for me to get another bad outing by the bullpen out of my mind as the Pirates will look to get the best of the Brewers in the rubber match tomorrow at PNC when Joe Musgrove takes the mound for the second time this season, versus Brandon Woodruff, who is 0-1 on the season with a 3.60 ERA.